May 19, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Grand Valley State baseball team is Cary-bound once again, coming back from a loss in the first game on Sunday (May 19) to pick up a 6-3 victory in the winner-take-all final game over Bellarmine. The Lakers advance to the Division II Baseball National Championship for the sixth time in school history, all in the last 11 years.
Sophomore Jamie Potts had the big hit, a two-out, two-RBI single with the game tied at three in the bottom of the eighth to drive in the go-ahead, and winning, runs.
GVSU will face Minnesota State on Saturday (May 25) in the opening game of the NCAA Division II College World Series for the Lakers at 5 p.m. Earlier this year, the Lakers defeated the Mavericks 12-0 on the spring break trip in Florida.
In the opening game of championship Sunday, Bellarmine made noise early, putting up a run in the bottom of the first to take a quick 1-0 lead.
The Knights answered with a three-run longball in the bottom half of the inning to take a 4-1 lead.
GVSU battled back after that, getting a single run in the top of the sixth on an opposite field home run by sophomore Jamie Potts, then picked up the tying pair of runs in the top of the seventh. After junior Stuart Eisler doubled to begin the inning, a groundout moved him to third and he came in to score on an RBI double by senior Stephen Claypool. Two wild pitches then brought Claypool in to tie the game at four.
Bellarmine again had an answer, getting two one-out singles to put men on. After a strikeout, an RBI single in to center made it a 5-4 game and a two-RBI single up the middle of the box made it a 7-4 game. The Lakers would be unable to come back in the top of the ninth, making way for a winner-take-all championship game.
Claypool and Abel each had two hits and an RBI in the contest. Junior starter Sean Clancy went 3.1 innings, allowing five hits and with two strikeouts. Senior Kyle Zegarac then worked 3.2 innings of relief, allowing four hits with five strikeouts.
In the deciding game, the two teams exchanged runs early on. In the bottom of the first, GVSU got a one-out single from Claypool, who moved to second when sophomore Kevin Zak walked. After an infield pop-up, Potts came up with the big hit, singling back up the middle to make it a 1-0 game.
Bellarmine answered in the top half of the second with an RBI groundout to tie the game at one.
In the bottom of the third, Zak led off the inning with a double inside the third base bag, and another man was put on when junior Giancarlo Brugnoni walked. After a sacrifice bunt moved both runners in to scoring position, Rudenga hit a groundout to the right side of the infield to bring in Zak and make it a 2-1 game.
Again though, the Knights had a response. In the top of the fourth, Bellarmine got a lead-off single and then a double to put two in scoring position with nobody out. After an RBI groundout tied the game at two, another RBI single made it a 3-2 Knight lead.
The score held until the bottom of the seventh, when again it was Potts stealing the show. Potts drilled a flyball to deep center field that bounced off the wall, then the centerfielder failed to handle the ball, allowing Potts to get to third. After a groundout with the infield pulled in, Abel came to the plate and lifted a shallow flyball in to right field. Potts used his speed and tagged anyway, forcing a throw up the third base line that he was able to get by and tie the game at three.
Bellarmine looked like they would answer again in the top of the eighth, getting a lead-off single. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second, a diving grab by Eisler kept the runner at bay and Campanella struck out the next batter, the three-hitter, looking to end the frame.
Then came the bottom of the eighth and an inning that Laker fans and players will remember for a while. After a strikeout began the inning, sophomore Mike Nadratowski hit a seeing-eye groundball back up the middle of the field to put one on. Claypool then drew a walk as Bellarmine brought in its closer following the at-bat. Two pitches later, Zak had drilled a single through the left side of the infield and loaded the bases with one out.
After a pop-up in to shallow right field failed to bring in the runner for the go-ahead run, Potts came to the plate again and delivered what would turn out to be the game-winning hit. Potts took a 2-2 pitch and laced it over the shortstop's head in to left-center field, bringing home Nadratowski and Claypool to make it a 5-3 game. Rudenga followed with a chopper back up the middle to score Zak and make it a 6-3 Laker advantage.
Bellarmine got a two-out single in the top of the ninth, but Zambron closed the door, getting a flyout to right field to end the game and send the Lakers to their sixth NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championship and College World Series appearance.
Campanella, on only two days rest after starting the opening game of the tournament on Thursday, powered through 108 pitches in eight innings of work to move to 9-4 on the year. Campanella allowed six hits and only two earned runs with two strikeouts. Zambron's save included a scoreless inning of relief with one strikeout, the 13th save of the season.
Potts led the way at the plate, going 3-for-3 with one run scored and three RBI. Rudenga went 2-for-5 with two RBI, while Nadratowski went 3-for-4 with a run scored and a walk. Claypool and Zak each had two hits, two runs scored and a walk.
Following the game, Brugnoni (1B), Potts (OF) and pitcher Kyle Teague were named to the NCAA Division II Midwest Region All-Tournament Team, with Potts earning MVP honors.
The Lakers, advancing to their second Division II College World Series in three years and sixth in the last 11, will prepare for Minnesota State. GVSU will be taking on the Mavericks on Saturday (May 25) at 5 p.m. in Cary, N.C.